You WILL believe a carpet can fly.
The new Disney “Aladdin” is a spectacle, a blend of CGI and live-action with glorious colors, action and production numbers.
But the brightest, most appealing feature is the incredible Naomi Scott. Scott, who was part of the “Power Rangers” ensemble, plays Princess Jasmine in a noteworthy performance. To top it off, she’s a terrific singer who delivers vocals that alone are worth the price of the movie.
This isn’t a complete remake of the 1992 animated version. There are differences, including an additional song. With all the gorgeous, highly detailed, brightly hued environments and tunes, you can’t mistake this for anything except what it is: A musical.
The movie, set in the fictional city of Agrabah, still is about Aladdin, though, who is played by Mena Moussaud television’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.”) Before we meet him, we meet a couple and their children aboard a ship, where the father tells the tale that unfolds.
Good-hearted Aladdin is a professional thief who quickly makes his way through the marketplace. His monkey Abu, regularly helps make off with loot.
When he meets Jasmine, who walks along the street with her handmaiden (Nasim Pedrad, “Saturday Night Live.”) Aladdin has no idea he is talking with royalty.
In the meantime, the princess is frustrated at being a kind of prisoner in her lavish abode.
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The power-hungry Jafar (Marwan Kenzari, “Ben-Hur”) lurks around every corner to thwart the good intentions of nearly everyone around him.
Aladdin comes into the possession of a magic lamp that produces a big blue genie, with the affable Will Smith in the role. Smith never tries to make the genie, voiced by Robin Williams in the previous flick, into a Williams wanna-be; instead, he gives the genie his own energy that’s quite enjoyable.
Director Guy Ritchie (“Sherlock Holmes”) wanted to update the songs, and that approach works most of the time. Composer/songwriter Alan Menken and award-winning songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“The Greatest Showman”) collaborated on the show-stopper “Speechless,” performed to applause-inducing perfection by Scott with a newly emphasized facet of female empowerment.
The CGI is grand. I especially loved the way the carpet springs to life.
Massoud and Scott have the on-screen chemistry it takes to make the audience root for their romance.
I understand why some fans of the 1992 classic will consider this to be nothing but a money-grab. It’s far from perfect. It’s overly long, particularly for a movie aimed at family audiences. Also, it took me a while to engage in the story.
Still, the Disney magic eventually shines through. And I liked the stronger, more present Jasmine, a great female role model.
It may not be a whole new world, but it’s a tale worth seeing in a new light.